Bitcoin Could Cost Us Our Clean-energy Future07 Dec 2017
Digital financial transactions come with a real-world price: The tremendous growth of cryptocurrencies has created an exponential demand for computing power. As bitcoin grows, the math problems computers must solve to make more bitcoin (a process called “mining”) get more and more difficult — a wrinkle designed to control the currency’s supply.
Today, each bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy used to power nine homes in the U.S. for one day. And miners are constantly installing more and faster computers. Already, the aggregate computing power of the bitcoin network is nearly 100,000 times larger than the world’s 500 fastest supercomputers combined.
Energy is the fuel that keeps the Bitcoin engine running. Just to keep the exchange of BTC and verifying the transaction records takes energy. So what happens when the energy required becomes prohibitivly expensive?